A veneer of addiction

The cell can be a devistatingly lonely place

The veneer of addiction shelids you from the reality of life and imprisons you in an idea that the outside world doesn’t want you.

In his book eternal echoes, Exploring our hunger to belong, (Bantam Press) John O’Donohue writes “The mental prison is devastatingly lonely. It is a sorrowful place because ultimately it is you who locks yourself up within a demented idea or feeling”

Addiction can be seen as another form of coping with life, the truth is, it is a trick, a clever and cunning beast that tells you, you haven’t got it. “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist” (The Usual Suspects).

Addiction wears many guises, previously I have worked with people whose addiction to alcohol and narcotics drew them down a lonely path of loneliness and despair with a promise of temporary release from freedom and worry. What started as temporary became a sordid, solitary way of life.

However I believe that addiction now has more faces than previously thought, with the advent of internet pornography and the freedom to engage in online gambling from the app on your phone to the online gaming worlds of mine craft and World of Warcraft, where people can disappear from their own world and find themselves increasingly drawn to virtual worlds.

Addiction is a voracious beast, offering little relief in comparison to its demands upon the individual health both physically and psychologically. Like a pay day loan, it is a rapacious creditor.

When I’ve worked with addictions in the passed, it has eradicated any stereotypes that I might have once thought. From the council estates of cotton towns to the dreamy spires of Oxford, addiction shows true diversity in that it impacts anyone caught in its grip.

in the 1950s Dr Silworth called alcoholism a progressive mental illness, yet it can still be judged as a weakness of character today. There is a saying in 12 step meetings that one is too many and a thousand never enough.

This phenomenon of craving that people struggling with addiction talk about seems to be quite unlike any other, how else can people become so gripped by a substance, or a ritual that provides such little relief from care freedom and worry to the detriment to everyone involved?

The idea of being locked up in a demented idea or prison is a good analogy. A prisoner of your own mind, unable to dig a tunnel to escape because the key in within you. A drug rehabilitation program that ran in a Lancashire prison used to give participants a t-shirt with the slogan, ‘ Change is an inside job’. Because in order to arrest addiction, you have to want to change.

How many therapist does it take to change a lightbulb? 1, but the therapist has to really want to change…

Helping people with addictions face this dilemma can be a challenge. The behaviours associated with addictions can become so ingrained that the idea of living without this crutch can be scary. Only by looking at the triggers and sometimes the reasons behind the need to escape and tackling those can someone learn to retrain their thought patterns and embrace life, take out that key and open their cell to freedom.

The Cell.

I’ve built four walls, a roof and a floor,

A cell of my own so I could withdraw.

I made it of bricks, and also of stone.

Built just for one, for me on my own.

i woke up one day, and found myself there.

No memory of arrival, didn’t really care.


But now i’m awake, alert and refreshed.

Wondering how I got in this great fucking mess.

For there aren’t any doors or windows to see,

No mirrors inside, no reflection of me.


Now I’m picking away at the bricks and the stone.

I have to break out of this cell on my own.

Then at last I will know, what it will take me to be.

To be happy, to function, and at last to be FREE. – by PJC

Sincerely yours 

A Thirsk Counsellor 

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